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Inhaled Oxytocin Linked to Improved Social Behavior in Autistic Patients

The New York Times reports on a study published in PNAS that has shown that oxytocin, a hormone known to play a role in emotional bonding, may improve social behavior in people with autism. The researchers gave either an inhaled dose of oxytocin or a placebo to 17 children with autism and placed them in an MRI machine. They then administered a well-established test of social-emotional connection where they had to match photographs of people’s eyes to specific emotions. The findings showed that children who received the dose of inhaled oxytocin showed increased activity in the areas of the brain associated with emotional perception and also showed improved performance on the emotional perception test. The results suggest potential treatments for autism but experts warn that the research is still in its early stages.

Read it in The New York Times.

Read the study in PNAS.